Take a Brief Glimpse at South Dallas Students' Once in a Lifetime Trip to China

And, speaking of Mark Birnbaum ...

When last I spoke with the Dallas-based doc maker, he was out and about filming Mayor Tom Leppert and other council members for a short promoting the new convention center hotel. He hasn't seen the finished film yet -- he was but a shooter on that project -- but we anxiously anticipate that bit of footage. Till then, then, in addition to Dig Deep, he's also posted a trailer for his documentary Once in a Lifetime, which debuted at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival last October and chronicles eight Lincoln High School students' journey to China a few years ago. A rough cut played the Dallas Video Festival a few years ago, but the final version has yet to play Dallas and has no screening date scheduled at present. Perhaps an Unfair Park-sponsored screening?

Till we make that happen, a brief bit of background on the trailer you'll find after the jump: These are annual adventures begun a decade ago by former Lincoln teacher Shirley Pickton and current Lincoln science instructor Darren Carollo, who billed the program as The World Classroom. In the past 10 years they've been, among other places, to Italy, Alaska and even lived amongst the Amish in Ohio. Birnbaum documented the Alaska sojourn in the film Polar Opposites, a KERA co-production that debuted at DVF in '03, and the China trip for Once in a Lifetime. And he's in the midst of editing the Amish film, which he'd like to finish before heading to Cairo with the students next month.

"These kids experience an extraordinary adventure," Birnbaum tells Unfair Park today from KERA, for whom he's wrapping up a short film about the Trinity River Audubon Center. "It's about culture shock and having kids go into these extreme cultural situations and find their feet and become aware and become leaders."

Once in a Lifetime from Mark Birnbaum on Vimeo.